Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Darfur safety fears: Oversight by TFF?

Could one safely conclude that the Tanzania Football Federation did not see the need for concerns over the state of security in Darfur before the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ministry raised concern?

Couldn’t that sadly suggest that the federation is living in such confirmed isolation that there is no way it can know what is going on around it – outside its immediate “sphere of influence”?

TFF president Leodegar Tenga, who holds a similar position in Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA), ought to have known the risk associated with staging a sub-continental regional soccer tournament in an area as prone to civil strife as Darfur.

Seriously, just how could he endorse CECAFA to go ahead and organise the tournament in the strife-torn region without making efforts to check with the relevant authorities?

Tenga must have known right from the beginning about initiatives taken by the regional body he presides over before endorsing the staging the regional of the club championship, popularly known as Kagame Cup, in a zone not totally free from violence.

It is the same TFF and CECAFA president who was involved in the decision by the regional association to shift the championship from Khartoum to Dar es Salaam in 2011.

If Khartoum was not safe enough to host a tournament in barely two years ago, how could Darfur become safe after almost a decade of war?

Despite being highly obsessed with soccer matters, Tenga and his lieutenants ought to have sensed the political instability in Sudan that led to the recent dismembering of the country.

We salute the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation ministry for making highlighting the need for concerns over safety in Darfur, where CECAFA has nonetheless elected to stage its high-profile regional club championship.

Probably Tenga may have delegated his powers to his secretary general, Nicholas Musonye, and believes every word the latter says without taking trouble to digest what he is told – which would be most unfortunate.

Whoever decided on the 2011 shift should have been consulted before Darfur was picked as the venue for this year’s Kagame Cup.

However superbly CECAFA and TFF may have performed thus far, this recent oversight over safety considerations relating tom Darfur comes as a shock to most people in the CECAFA “bloc”.

We can bet that had the issue been public knowledge early enough, clubs would have spared themselves preparation costs in respect of a tournament still covered by smog.

CECAFA should have borrowed a leaf from the Confederation of African Football, which learnt a lot from what happened in Angola during last year’s Nations Cup finals.
Having secured independence after several decades, Angola still suffers from intermittent skirmishes caused by rebels who badly tainted the country’s image by after assaulting the Togo national team.

It will be recalled that CAF also replaced Libya as hosts of the Nations Cup championship that was supposed to be staged this year, with South Africa taking over the role. Reason? Security concerns.

Both TFF and CECAFA should stand reminded about the need to be especially keen on factors to be considered in the selection of countries to host crucial tournaments. Security should always come first.

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